Hartlepool United are back in the EFL after winning today’s National League play-off final against Torquay United on penalties.

Pools ultimately triumphed in a hugely entertaining encounter at Ashton Gate, with Dave Challinor’s side taking a 1-0 lead into half-time through Luke Armstrong. Kyle Cameron had netted a header for Torquay early on, only to see it ruled out for a push from a teammate.

Cameron would again be denied a goal in the second half, with his header chalked off for what was deemed a foul on keeper Brad James. The match took a sensational turn as Torquay equalised deep into stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes, as goalkeeper Lucas Covolan headed home.

After a goalless extra-time, it looked as if the day was destined to belong to the Gulls’ Brazilian stopper, as he saved Hartlepool’s first two penalties in the shootout, though both of Torquay’s efforts were off target.

The headline moment instead went to Pools’ on-loan Middlesbrough keeper James, who pushed Matt Buse’s kick against the bar to send the Victoria Park side back to the League for the first time since 2017.

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